NATIONAL University overcame a rough patch in the second set to turn back University of Santo Tomas, 25-22, 29-27, 25-17, and jump straight to the Finals in the UAAP women’s volleyball tournament yesterday at the Mall of Asia Arena.
With the extended second set hanging in the balance, the Lady Bulldogs displayed tremendous composure as setter Camilla Lamina nailed the go-ahead service ace to break a 27-27 tie before Sheena Toring scored on a floating ball to close out the set.
It was an all-NU show in the third frame, racing to a 17-7 advantage on a Cess Robles kill to put the match to bed.
After Robles gave the Lady Bulldogs their ninth straight-set victory of the season with a kill, the Bustillos-based spikers celebrated their perfect 14-0 elimination round season, moving two wins away from ending a 65-year title drought.
NU, whose core is part of the highly-successful high school program, became the fourth team after La Salle (2004, 2013-14) and Ateneo (2014-15) in the Final Four era to complete a 14-match elims sweep.
Except for the 2013-14 Lady Spikers squad which lost to the Blue Eagles despite having a thrice-to-beat advantage, which was used by the league back then for a team which record a perfect elims campaign, all of them went all the way.
“Sobrang saya,” said Lady Bulldogs mentor Karl Dimaculangan.
Robles led NU with 13 points, including two blocks, Mhicaela Belen had 12 points, 21 receptions and 11 digs, while Alyssa Solomon also dropped 12 kills.
Libero Jen Nierva, who collected 13 digs and 21 receptions, was satisfied the way the Lady Bulldogs performed in the 40-minute second set.
“I just enjoyed the game. Focus lang,” said Nierva.
Earlier, Trisha Genesis scored 20 points while Lucille Almonte came through with 14 points and 20 receptions as Adamson staved off elimination with a 25-23, 17-25, 25-16, 26-24 victory over La Salle.
Despite the loss, the fourth in 14 matches, Lady Spikers were able to secure the twice-to-beat incentive in the step-ladder stage by virtue of the Tigresses defeat to the Lady Bulldogs.
UST, which drew 13 points, 11 receptions and eight digs from Eya Laure, ended the elims as the third-ranked team with a 9-5 record.
“We worked hard lang talaga, ang bilin namin sa mga players kanina talagang trabahuhin lang namin bawat puntos,” said coach Lerma Giron after the Lady Falcons ended the elimsp with a 8-6 record.
“Talagang bawat bola, pag trabahuhan. Kung anuman ang resulta, si God na ang bahala basta gawin lang nila yung responsibilidad nila,” she added.
Adamson will face titleholder Ateneo, which defeated also-ran University of the Philippines, 19-25, 25-11, 25-18, 25-19, in the final elimination round match to force a playoff for the last Final Four slot at 5 p.m. tomorrow.
Faith Nisperos led the Blue Eagles with 19 points, while AC Miner had eight blocks for a 17-point outing.
Thea Gagate had four blocks to finish with 12 points, while Alleiah Malaluan and Jolina dela Cruz matched Gagate’s scoring output and combined 25 of the Lady Spikers’ 41 receptions.
In a duel of last-placed teams, University of the East averted a winless season and snapped a 19-match losing streak against Far Eastern University with a 25-22, 22-25, 25-21, 25-21 triumph.
Ja Lana had 21 kills, including the match-winner, while Dara Nieva also scored 21 points to go with 14 receptions for the Lady Warriors.
“Masaya na may konting panghihinayang, but I’m very happy kasi at least we ended the season on a high note,” said first year UE coach Jumbo Dimaculangan.
“At least nakuha talaga yung elusive win na iyan, medyo nanghihinayang because there are games that could have gone our way,” he added.
The Lady Tamaraws, who drew 23 points from Chenie Ubaldo, ended the season with 11 straight losses for a 1-13 record.
It was UE’s first victory against FEU since Dec. 8, 2010, when the Recto-based spikers fashioned out a 26-24, 25-19, 17-25, 25-22 first round win.